Today anything is possible

one of my paintings (for sale on MY ARTWORK PAGE)

“I SING MYSELF…” (line in a poem by Walt Whitman, Song of Myself),  one of my paintings (for sale on MY ARTWORK PAGE)

I picked up a deck of affirmation cards by Florence Scovel Shinn the other day at the thrift store, and they are wonderful.  The cards are quotes taken from her book, The Game of Life and How to Play It, which was published in 1925. I’d be delighted to pick a card for you.

If you’d like one, just let me know in a comment, and I will shuffle the deck, pick a card (without looking!) and reply to your comment with the quote.

Sending happy, prosperous, and fun thoughts to you today!

I just called to see how I was doing

Jack and Lu

Jack and Luke standing in the middle of the frozen Hudson river yesterday

For years, if I didn’t hear from someone who I’d been close to, I would think that I’d done something wrong. Usually the scenario in my head would run like this, “I haven’t heard from ___ in a couple of weeks (or months), I wonder what is up with them? Are they OK? Are they sick? Are they mad at me for some reason? Have I done something wrong?”

Then my mind would begin to search for the trouble. I’d wish that they would call or write so I could feel better and if they didn’t, I’d either get more upset with myself, I’d try to forget them, thinking something like, “I don’t know what is up with them, but it is obviously their problem” or I’d call them and say, “I just called to see how you were doing.”

The truer statement should have been, “I just called to see how I was doing. If you’re upset with me then I am not doing well or you are an idiot or I am very sorry for being the inadequate being that I am. How can I make this up to you? On the other hand, If you aren’t upset with me, and you are happy to hear from me, then I am doing well.”

It took me forever to realize that the gift was not in letting them go, or digging further into myself to find out how inadequate I was and then trying diligently and humbly to correct myself. The gift was that every time this scenario played and I began to feel bad, I had the huge opportunity to see myself clearly and change a belief. This scenario was telling me that I fundamentally believed that there was something wrong with me. This was “my problem”. My belief about myself was the problem and the “other” was just a mirror. Whatever I thought they were thinking, was what I was thinking about myself and so it did no good to dismiss them, search myself for more inadequacies, or try to be a better friend to them.

I saw that I was unfriendly toward myself. My thoughts about myself were mean and cruel and critical. No person could change this but me. I started to feel genuine gratitude for all of those people who didn’t call or write but who held up the mirror of myself for me to see a hidden belief and to change it. It also became clear that if I didn’t change then I would constantly be looking outward to others trying desperately to affirm my worth while holding fast to the belief in my basic unworthiness.

We’ve all gotten the desperate-feeling phone calls or emails in which the caller is trying to mask their insecurity by seemingly being concerned about us or casually friendly. Yuk. I don’t appreciate it when it is done to me so I have to assume that others feel the same. It is dishonest. We know it and so do others. We’d be better off to admit our insecurity and say, “I’m just calling to see how I am doing” …and then we could both have a good laugh. But even better, I could see that I am feeling bad, thank god that I see it, and thank the other person (in my mind) for not calling or writing so I have the gentle and sweet opportunity to change my beliefs in the comfort of my own mind.

I am a divine being. You are a divine being. I believe that it is time to start believing this.

 

 

Good heavens!

a new painting available on MY ARTWORK PAGE

a new painting available on MY ARTWORK PAGE

A number of years ago, I was telling someone about a very unpleasant thing that my ex-mother-in-law said to me, and this person had the audacity to say, “I can see both sides of the situation.” I wanted to punch him. I couldn’t imagine how he could possibly see that her take on the conflict was at all legitimate or in any way my fault. I felt hurt, angry, and misunderstood, and I thought, “Well I just won’t ever talk to him about this again”.

For years, I held this same scene in my mind. I relived it, retold it, and replayed it over and over, and it never changed. I was unhappy initially and unhappy every time I thought about it. One day it dawned on me that not only were there two sides to every story, but there may be an infinite number of ways in which this (or any) situation could be viewed. I challenged myself to remember it differently, not making myself wrong, but not blaming her either.

As I sat with an open mind, I saw her face and it looked different. I didn’t try to change the situation, I just remained (as much as possible) an observer. She appeared kinder than I could ever remember seeing her, and as she spoke the same words, the thought, “She was trying to be funny” edged into my consciousness. The next thought that came was, “Oh my god, what would it feel like to believe this?”

The memory faded and as much as my mind wanted to scream, “Don’t believe a new story! She was really being a bitch!”, another vision had already crept in. I’ve never felt the same about this woman again. I don’t know how she feels about me, but I am free of the bitterness that I carried, and nurtured, for years when I thought about her.

Since that time, I’ve rethought many unhappy incidences from my past and every time, when I’ve had a truly open mind, I’ve seen or heard something new. I also have to admit that I haven’t done this with everyone. I still harbor a few victim stories that need new attention. We’ve all experienced this with others. We can hear a well-worn victim story from a mile away. It is easy to spot in others, not so easy with ourselves, but we can all do it.

We can spot our sad stories of the past and reframe them, open them up to a higher consciousness and heal them. The past doesn’t need to be our pattern for the future unless we are hell-bent on staying stuck in the negative well-worn groove of an unhappy story, hell-bent on defending our limitations, hell-bent on defending our right to be the one who was hurt. When Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” I believe that he was saying “Heaven is as close as a change of thought and an open mind”.

Wishing you all a heavenly weekend!

 

 

 

stepping out

Eleanor taking a d

I’d just sat down with my paints and a cup of water when Eleanor decided that she’s like a drink. This wasn’t my plan. It was much cuter.

As I read the wonderful comments from yesterday’s blog, I feel compelled to add something that I didn’t say in that post. The new opportunities that had presented themselves to those of us who “lit up” with the new ideas, were not exactly what we had imagined. In all cases, things were actually better than we had imagined but also different enough that our first reactions were sort of, “Really? Am I capable of doing this? Could this truly be possible? Should I go this way?”

It’s important to have a vision but just as important to hold it loosely so the magic of this Universe has a chance to present something beyond our wildest dreams. I’m past the point of thinking that my conscious mind can figure out how things will happen. As a matter of fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that if I can figure out how my life will unfold, then the plan/vision that I have is way too small. I’d rather trust. I’d rather have faith in the unseen part of myself that works with, through, and for me (and for all of us) at every moment of every day.

Our “work” in all of this is simply to imagine ourselves happily living life. When we do that, the “particulars” of what we need to fulfill our creative desires, will “light up” on our paths and then “our work” is to say, YES. As one step is presented and we take it, while dismissing the fearful thoughts that we’re being led down a dead-end path or that we’ll be dropped in the middle and left scrambling for our lives, another step lights up. It takes courage to step when we cannot see where the next step will take us, but it is what the adventure of life is all about, and to me, this is the essence Faith.

The human mind plans the way, but God//the Field of All Knowing/The Spirit of Love/Our Divine Self, directs the steps. Proverbs 16:9 (my translation)

This entry was posted on March 27, 2015. 7 Comments

imagine that!

This painting is a work in progress. I don't know where it is goin

This painting is a work in progress….I’ve never shared a painting here on the blog, with so little of it finished. I don’t know where it is going but I show up everyday and ask. The first day I found an antique tea-pot (on-line) and painting that, but not the flowers in the center. “The Path” showed up yesterday. Then the acorn fairy guide appeared, then the happy dragon (who just got glass scales this morning!)

Several months ago, a group that I am closely involved with gathered for a meal and at the end, we challenged each other to grow outside of our normal comfort zones. The wonder (and agony at times) of being with people who know us so well, is that they can see our strengths but can also see the places where we are not growing, where we might be hiding, and then point these out to us.

Almost everyone there committed to doing one new (and somewhat frightening) thing in the next six months. I could see that the people who really imagined themselves doing “that thing” were already a bit uncomfortable. I know that I was, but I also believed enough in the vision of that group, and what I felt was the love and goodwill there for me and for my growth, that I overroad that part of me that was saying, “They don’t know how hard this is to do. I don’t think that is a good idea. They don’t really know my path anyway. They are just being mean”, and I made my commitment.

The changes that have happened within this small group over the past 3 months have been astounding. One of the guys who was not actively seeking new work was called, apparently out of the blue, by a huge company in his field to take a job which involved being in front of the camera instead of behind it (more details on this to come!). His challenge had involved being in front of an audience.

I thought that I was moving in the direction of more writing but was “noticed” by the creative director of a large company and was encouraged to see myself as an artist and painter in a much more focused way. This change has brought me so much happiness that I literally cannot wait to get up in the morning to start painting.

As I was getting up this morning, a clear message came through and it was this, “Notice what happened when you just imagined yourself differently. All of you who truly committed to this change “lit up”….and I really mean that; you lit up. Now you are “visible” in an energetic sense, to those who are looking for you. I had begun to take an action on my committment, but the other man who I spoke of hadn’t yet done anything “on the outside”…he just imagined doing it.

We, and I certainly put myself in this category too, just cannot comprehend the power of our minds to bring us opportunities, but we don’t “light up” if our minds (and our mouths) are filled with gloomy scenarios, thoughts of failure, begging for help, or pleading with god to change us. We can change ourselves. We can see ourselves in a new light and when we see ourselves differently, we are seen differently.

 

The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn, the bird waits in the egg, and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.” ~ James Allen

 

teacher recognition day

Jack sharred his spaghetti with a grateful friend

Jack shared his spaghetti with a grateful friend

We’ve all heard the saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”, and I believe this. I’ve also come to see that we ourselves, are both the student and the teacher. When I really want an answer to any situation that seems to be troubling, or beyond my understanding, the answer is already there. The solution to the “problem” that I am struggling with isn’t hidden from my view, as a matter of fact, it is so clear that I don’t see it as a limiting personal/group belief that I’ve accepted as truth, I see it as “reality”.

Like many of us, I was raised in a home and religious tradition where divorce was considered wrong, bad, and a sin against god, so when I knew in my heart that my first marriage was over, and that I wanted a divorce, a part of me couldn’t accept this. If divorce was wrong/bad, and I got divorced (and even worse, it wouldn’t be  flung upon me so I could feel like an innocent victim) then it would make me wrong/bad. Just the thought that I wanted a divorce reinforced the idea that I was a bad, flawed,  and unspiritual person.

I began to have dreams that I was about to walk down the aisle to get married and as I stood in the back of the church, I’d realize that I didn’t have to do it and would feel elated until I also realized in my dream that I was already married, then I’d feel depressed. Night after night, year after year, I’d have this dream; a dream that tortured me, until I made the decision to get a divorce, and then I never had that dream again.

The teacher that I needed was coming through in my dreams, since I wouldn’t listen to her in my waking hours. She was showing me that I’d accepted a “rule” made up by some other person/group in some other age, as my rule and then I lived within the confines of that rule/cage: hating captivity but fearing the horrors of hell if I escaped. I also began to see that before I’d had the courage to get a divorce, I’d been one of the most judgemental and critical people regarding it. I looked down on those divorced ones as less than moral.

I can usually spot a limiting belief/rule/cage now by how I react to others. If I find myself being hyper-critical then “my teacher” is very aware and actively trying to say, “Look there Mary and see yourself.”  Our limiting beliefs are not hidden away in some dark recess of our minds or psyches. They are as plain and clear as our critical judgements about ourselves or others. When I am ready to see, I see.

It’s also important not to beat ourselves up when we finally do see these not-so-pretty sides to ourselves. We’ve suffered enough by not seeing ourselves clearly and projecting our garbage out on others. See it, own it, accept it and release it…and then, if you can try to smile at yourself…maybe do a little victory dance. Be easy. We are all learning, and if you are brave enough to face yourself, then you are a courageous being who deserves a little recognition from the teacher. Give yourself a gold star today!

 

cupcake Jeezum crow 2 (one of my new paintings)

Jeezum crow 2 (one of my new paintings) on MY ARTWORK PAGE

Late bloomers…what kind of flower is this?!

a new painting

a new painting for sale on MY ARTWORK PAGE

There was a segment on the program, Sunday Morning, yesterday that brought me to tears. It was entitled “Late Bloomers” and as Jack and I watched it, we both were filled with deep emotion. For me it felt like hope and an affirmation that life is truly meant to keep expanding, as we ourselves are.

For many years, I’d believed that the depth of our talents and creative abilities would surface and grow as we aged. It seemed like evidence of this was rare, but I still felt it, and it seemed to be connected to the way we perceived youth and beauty. I even wrote a paper about this, over 20 years ago, when I was a student at Harvard Divinity School. But at the same time, I was experiencing a huge inner struggle as I felt I’d lost my youthful appearance. I was 35 at the time.

When I was younger, I was obsessed with looking good and gaining the attention of the opposite sex….and I got quite a lot of it, but that began to change in my late 30’s and with that decline in attention, I experienced disorientation and a questioning of my value. “If I couldn’t attract a man, what good was I?”, was a question that, even though I don’t like admitting it, consumed a lot of my time.

Much of my creativity went into keeping my body in shape and trying to maintain a youthful appearance, and I felt there was a war of sorts going on inside as deeper and more meaningful parts of me were emerging and begging for some “air time”. I was fighting becoming “old”. I didn’t want to be unattractive (and as un-politically correct as that sounds, it was my belief that old was not pretty, at all) and did not believe that my inner self, talents, and abilities, were as attractive as my outer shell, which was now, to my horror, slipping away; sagging, bagging wrinkling, bulging, and greying.

But some part of me also hoped that there was something inside beyond my looks, something which was rich and wonderful and that glimmer of belief was like a golden thread that led me through a very necessary change from focusing on my outer self to allowing my inner self to emerge…and I like it…a lot.

Focusing on the body can become an unhealthy obsession, whether it is on our beauty, or even on our “health”. Eat right, exercise, sleep, do yoga, take the right vitamins, drink plenty of water…all of these things that we are told are “good” for us, can also make us to forget that we are so much more than bodies. How many times do we ask someone, “How are you?” and the answer is about health, the state of their physical bodies, or the “health” of one of their family members. Few people think to say, “I am a wonder!” or “I am opening up in a way that is delightful!”, in response to that question.

But it is a good question. How about answering, “I am growing, I am expanding, I am becoming aware of new thoughts and revelations that have only just been revealed to me.” We are more than our bodies, but where we focus is where we will be led. I want to honor my body but not worship it or make a Herculean effort to preserve it and prevent it from changing. I hope to hold it lovingly, let it go its way, and keep my focus on what I want to experience more of in this life: love, happiness, creativity, and the sense of wonder that comes with change and growth which is what this life is all about.

“When your ideas about yourself change, so does your experience.” Seth, from The Nature of Personal Reality

P.S. My ideas of beauty and youth have also changed as I have come, more and more to accept myself. I look at Judi Dench and Maggie Smith and think , “I love the way that those women live and look!” and this is, to me, a sign of my own growth.